Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Medical Conditions
Seizures and Autism Spectrum Disorders
One in four children with autism spectrum disorder develops seizures, often starting either in early childhood or adolescence. Seizures, caused by abnormal electrical activity in the brain, can produce a temporary loss of consciousness (a "blackout"), a body convulsion, unusual movements, or staring spells. Sometimes a contributing factor is a lack of sleep or a high fever. An EEG (electroencephalogram -- recording of the electric currents developed in the brain by means of electrodes applied to the scalp) can help confirm the seizure's presence.
In most cases, seizures can be controlled by a number of medicines called "anticonvulsants." The dosage of the medication is adjusted carefully so that the least possible amount of medication will be used to be effective.
Fragile X Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorders
This disorder is the most common inherited form of mental retardation. It was so named because one part of the X chromosome has a defective piece that appears pinched and fragile when under a microscope. Fragile X syndrome affects about 2 to 5 percent of people with autism spectrum disorder. It is important to have a child with autism spectrum disorder checked for Fragile X, especially if the parents are considering having another child. For an unknown reason, if a child with autism spectrum disorder also has Fragile X, there is a one-in-two chance that boys born to the same parents will have the syndrome. Other members of the family who may be contemplating having a child may also wish to be checked for the syndrome.
Autism Spectrum Disorders and Tuberous Sclerosis
Tuberous sclerosis is a rare genetic disorder that causes benign tumors to grow in the brain as well as in other vital organs. It has a consistently strong association with autism spectrum disorder. One to 4 percent of people with autism spectrum disorders also have tuberous sclerosis.